A couple of days ago, Selina mistook someone on the street for Babysitter J (her favorite person on the planet Earth). She called his name happily, but we told her it was someone else. The man turned around and looked at her with distinct annoyance on his face. "Say hi!" we cajoled Selina, because we felt awkward. But after a couple of times being told this, Selina looked the obviously disgruntled man in the eye and said, calmly, "I don't want to say hi."
Well good for her. She shouldn't have to make us feel less awkward about a perfectly harmless baby mistake or feel the need to be polite and conciliatory to strangers who aren't polite and conciliatory themselves. Anyway, that's my humble opinion. I think it's a very good thing to be polite and gracious, and we are certainly teaching our kids that. But you know, girls are asked far too much by our culture to smile and act nice for the benefit of others. And they shouldn't have to if they don't want to. I was proud of Selina for discerning that this strange, annoyed man was not someone she really wanted to engage. She wanted to engage her beloved J.
Nat is a champ in her Spanish class. She really loves the teacher and I think the teacher is rather fond of her too. But they do this weird thing at the school. They use a plant mister--a little spray-bottle full of water, and they squirt the kids with it as a reward when they respond in an exercise or game. I can't even imagine how anyone came up with that idea. I see a water mister and think "cat punishment" right? But the other kids (not Nat) just laugh and giggle and seem to love it when the teacher squirts them with this water bottle.
So it was Nat's turn, and she dutifully did whatever the teacher was aiming for her to do and the teacher squirted her. I was peeking through the classroom window and I saw Nat flinch. I happen to know she hates to be sprayed with anything, because she complains whenever I spray water or conditioner on her hair when I'm braiding it. So the teacher made it around the circle and got back to Nat again. She asked Nat for a response again, and Nat hesitated, looked the teacher in the eye, and said calmly but clearly, "I don't want you to spray me with that water." The teacher told her that was fine and she promised not to spray Nat any more. Then Nat gave her the answer she wanted, and the teacher cheered her sin water sprayer.
I was just really impressed that Nat didn't cry or throw a tantrum or try to leave the circle, (or come looking for me) but neither did she submit to something she didn't like. She named her boundary politely and made sure it was going to be respected before she went on with the exercise.
Really, I think I was as proud of that as I was of her quick and ready responses to the instruction. Prouder even, maybe.
I wouldn't have done that at four. No way, no how. I would have rolled over with whatever awful thing the adult was doing or telling me to do. I was a meek little kid. Nat is not meek, but she is not rude, either. Go Nat!
These are my squash. It's difficult to see them, and yes, they are teensy, but there are four little squash on the vine so far. This was taken two days ago and the "big" one here in the middle is already twice this size and the next biggest one is this big.
My other squash died after being decimated by a sudden thunderstorm. Its main stem broke and that was all she wrote.
But I am somewhat surprised and definitely pleased by how well the remaining one is doing. Next year, I'll probably plant four of these.
This is the same plant, but I wanted you to see my nifty self-watering bottle. It's a terra cotta stake that goes into the container and then you fill a bottle of water and stick it down in there. These are mineral water bottles I painted to keep the light out so they wouldn't grow too much algae.
Here's one of my tomatoes. Except not really. Fine, I broke down and bought two plants. Both are doing well. They had blossoms when I bought them, which I pruned off. Soon they had more blossoms and now they have green tomatoes. I have about four on each plant now. My actual tomato seedlings are still only about an inch tall. What's up with that? I started them in early April! They are healthy, but only have four leaves each!
Remember the silly milk bottle in the middle of this planter? It's finally doing what I had planned and hiding under the wild flowers. Some are getting buds, including the teddy bear sunflowers I put all around the outer rim.
The lettuce produced beautifully for a month and we had many delicious salads. It's pretty much done now, so I planted carrots in that planter. I also put carrots in the pots where the cucumbers bit it and in the space which held the short-lived and under-producing broccoli raab.
This has nothing to do with gardening. It's Nat's picture of a guitar on her magnadoodle. She was very proud and keen that I take a picture and preserve it forever. I have to say, I am impressed. It's pretty good for a magnadoodle, don't you think? She drew it from life, copying her ukulele:
I know it's Father's Day today and many of you are celebrating that. We have many wonderful fathers (and faery godfathers!) in our lives and we wish them all the best. But for our two-mom family, today is special for another reason:
Selina at 24 months old is something along the lines of 31.5 or 32 inches tall (and wiggly). That would make her 5'4" ish when she grows up, which is taller than I expected. Her mom is only about 4'11"--maaaayyybe 5 feet--tall.
I forgot to measure Nat at 24 months, but her mom is about 5'4". So we'll see, but I am guessing the girls will be similarly medium-short when they are grown.
Selina's second birthday has come and gone (Saturday) and was, I have to say, a huge success. She was aware this year, that she was the birthday girl (she remembered Nat's birthday from February and knew what it meant) and enjoyed--really for the first time in her life--a real place at center stage. Nat was a gracious supporting cast member and terrific big sister, helping (no, really just helping) Selina open her gifts and appreciate her cake. Well, Selina didn't really appreciate her cake at all. I had hoped she would recognize Sandra Boynton's hippopotamus, but for one reason and another, she didn't seem to.
Nat did, though, so that was nice. Actually, it was pretty amusing. For the party I had veggie crudite and dip, plus some whole apples and pears. Selina usually gets cut fruit, but Nat can eat a whole fruit. So Nat had been munching away on an apple, but when she heard cake was imminent, she handed the apple to Selina, who was really excited about getting a big, whole apple, like sister usually gets. So the cake sort of didn't register in the wake of her excitement about the apple. She held it in her hand while I tried to get her to blow out the candles. Cake was really underwhelming for her.
She did like eating the cake. But I am not sure she liked it more than the apple. (Nat did, though!)
Mama Fern was here (along with Grammy and Granddaddy, Babysitter J, friend Krystal and her guest, Justin and neighbors K and D) , which was nice, as she was unable to get together for Mothers' Day this year. I have to let you know something, though.
I have decided not to blog much about our specific adoption experiences here anymore. I will still be blogging about adoption in general and about our family on a surface level, but I have been unable to figure out where the line is for me in sharing too much of others' stories. Since the kids are too little to help decide how they feel about sharing their own stories, and since neither of the first mothers in our family have computer access, I feel too much responsibility for the control of the story. I am going to err on the side of telling too little, rather than telling too much.
I guess I've had this policy for a while, unofficially, but now I'm letting you know.
Meanwhile, I want to also let you know that if you ever want to email me and ask to hear more of our experience in order to help you sort out your own, please do feel free. I don't have a problem discretely sharing with you as an individual. I just think publishing on the WWW is a bit too much for me at this point.
Suffice it to say that we have what I think of as successful open adoptions in the sense that all parties are doing all they are able for the best interest of the children. But that doesn't mean we have happy, rosy stories. "All we are able" is sometimes quite short of perfect and that is the case in our family. But I also feel that "all we are able" is something the children will understand and appreciate as they grow up.
I will also say in vague terms that open adoption is HARD. Sometimes I fear people will think it is easy for others and so when they don't find it easy themselves, they decide it must be wrong for them and they close the adoption. I will say it again, I am finding open adoption to be a serious challenge. A struggle. Painful. But all in that way where you know the pain is good for you and means you are growing. I am especially convinced that it is good for my children, which is why I work so hard at it, however challenging I find it.
I think both kids--especially Nat--are beginning to really understand some things about their families in an age-appropriate, organic way that will prevent sudden surprises that might really hurt them and turn their realities upside down to learn later. So again: hard but good. And again, feel free to write personally via email to share your story or hear more of ours if you feel it will help in any way.
And now we are off for family adventure day at the aquarium. We hear the dolphins and whales are back from "vacation!"
Nat has made some fun pictures lately. I thought I'd share a smattering (so I don't have to actually keep them.)
This is a drawing Nat calls "Go" which she is still learning with Babysitter J, who says she's coming right along:
Here's a pretty painting. Only recently, she's started paying more attention to filling space and color in a way she finds pleasing and balanced--as opposed to just going nuts with the brush for kicks. I like this one, because it's in my favorite color scheme:
I dictated the letters and Nat wrote Selina's name. I thought it was pretty good:
Nat has started to write a lot of words lately. I only dictated this one. Others she's written include "bear" and "apple." She spelled bear correctly on her own, but apple, she spelled "APPL." But I was impressed that she put two Ps in there. Invented spellers at Nat's stage would typically just write APL. And Bear--maybe BR. But she reads a lot, so I guess she picks up some spelling that way, unconsciously. I want to start writing stories with her, but I need some pointers on getting good stories out of children.
Here's a fairly typical face these days. Sometimes, though, they do get quite elaborate with jewelry and appendages and clothing. She still hasn't hit the torso stage. When she does limbs, they come straight from the face:
And finally, a cameo from Selina! Her style is interesting. Unlike Nat, who I mentioned has only recently started thinking about filling te space consciously (painting above), Selina is already quite focused on filling the page in a balanced way, with similar marks, in a variety of colors, evenly spread over the page: